SB 27: Expanding Scope of Practice for Physician Assistants
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A shortage of physicians has left Utahns unable to access the care that they need in a timely manner. This issue is especially prevalent in rural areas of the state. Utah’s shortage of health care professionals can be attributed, in part, to restrictive scope of practice laws that are limiting the autonomy of advanced practice providers.
Up until now, Utah has had antiquated legislation restricting the scope of practice for physician assistants (PAs). For example, PAs must have physician supervision and are only granted limited roles during public health emergencies. The consequences of this current legislation have greatly limited where PAs can practice in Utah, how many PAs are able to practice in Utah, and the quality of care Utahns receive.
PAs are able to diagnose, prescribe, and perform many other tasks that a physician would. With these responsibilities, it is evident that PAs are qualified enough to work without the supervision of a doctor. In fact, PAs are so qualified that the last time you went to the doctor it is likely that a PA was the person really treating you.
Senator Curt Bramble aims to alleviate Utah’s shortage of health care professionals and provide greater autonomy to PAs with Senate Bill 27. This bill would provide a greater scope of practice for PAs by removing the requirement for a PA to “maintain a relationship” with a physician. This will increase the ability to provide effective health care to underserved populations in Utah.
This bill also creates new requirements for recent PA graduates and allows more independence for PAs in responding to health care emergencies. Senate Bill 27 guarantees PAs receive the best possible training and are able to provide needed support during health care disasters, like COVID-19.